Tag Archives: reality

Ronnie O"Sullivan says snooker return could be car crash TV

It could be car crash television, but I'll still be worth watching! Returning O'Sullivan says appearance at Crucible will be like a reality TV show

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 15 April 2013

Snooker's biggest star Ronnie O'Sullivan joked that his return for the Betfair World Championship at the Crucible will be like watching Big Brother.

The 37-year-old has taken most of this season off, but is returning for the spring showpiece in Sheffield.

And he said: 'It's like my own reality TV show. It could be car crash, it could be good. You just don't know.

'I’ve never been one for doing Big Brother but this is about as close as it gets to it. It’s definitely exciting for me and everyone looking in.

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

'If I'm cueing all right and feeling all right, then I should be a match for anyone, but who knows'

The snooker world waits with bated breath to see what kind of form O'Sullivan will be in at the Crucible.

He insists that his desire for success, focus, to lose weight and reconnect with friends encouraged him to return to defend his title.

The 37-year-old Chigwell cueman
confirmed in February that he would defend the title he won 12 months
ago, despite not competing in a tournament since.

'There's a part of me that wants
instant success,' the four-time champion said. 'That would be nice, but
for me it's just about having fun. I felt it was time to have some sort
of focus in my life.

'Running was a massive part of my
life and I found I got that lazy having nothing to do, I had too much
time to even go and run in the end. I started putting weight on.

'I realised that snooker gave me an
opportunity to meet some good people, to travel and that's kind of what I
missed, missing the routine.'

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

O'Sullivan has lost a stone since
deciding to come back by returning to a routine and plans to run during
the 17-day World Championship, which begins on Saturday with his
first-round match against Marcus Campbell.

O'Sullivan believes he has plenty to
offer the game, adding: 'If you look at it statistically I've done
pretty well, but from my own perspective I feel like I've still
underachieved. I'd like to win another world title in my forties. I've
not set myself the goal to win this year's world title because that
would be a bit of a silly goal.

'I'd like to be a world champion when
I'm 40. It gives me a bit of leeway. It's the long game I'm looking at,
rather than just the short-term. This is just the start.'

Winning on his comeback would be an
overwhelming experience, O'Sullivan admitted. 'It would be a fairytale
dream, but last year was my greatest performance,' he said.

'I'd had a good season and it was
expected by pretty much everyone that I was going to win the tournament
before it started. To me that is the ultimate achievement, because
anything other than a win would've been seen as a failure in most
people's eyes.

'This year it's a different ball
game. I've come here with no matches under my belt. It'll just be nice
to be out there playing. I don't have anything to prove to the general
public.'

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

O'Sullivan is something of an enigma
and has worked with Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who worked
with British Cycling and whom he now regards as a friend. O'Sullivan is
instinctive in his game and his life and his recent practice sessions
with Peter Ebdon were 'by coincidence' in Sheffield.

'Peter was the only decent player for
me to play. I had no choice,' O'Sullivan said. 'That's not being
horrible because I love Peter. And I can handle him better now since
I've been working with Steve Peters. I wish I'd been working with him 20
years ago.'

O'Sullivan was speaking at the Groucho Club in London's Soho alongside world No 1 Mark Selby, who is favourite for the title.

Selby, described as an 'invoicing
operation' by World Snooker chief Barry Hearn, has won the UK
Championship and Masters tournaments this year and is aiming to become
the fourth player – after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams –
to win the 'triple crown' in the same season.

The 29-year-old from Leicester said:
'It's a tough tournament to win. There's a lot of great players in it.
It's great to have Ronnie back playing as well, so it's going to be
tough.

'He's one of the most natural players
to ever play our game. If any one player can do it (win after a year
out), Ronnie's the person.'

Jeremy Lynch and Billy Wingrove football freestyle skills

Flicking hell! Is this the best football freestyle video on the internet

By
Gerard Brand

PUBLISHED:

15:14 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:17 GMT, 28 February 2013

Never mind Cristiano Ronaldo's endless stepovers, Ronaldinho's dummy pass or even the Cruyff turn… England have finally produced the sort of skill that can rival Rory Delap's long throw.

Billy Wingrove and former Britain's Got Talent finalist Jeremy Lynch have teamed up as 'The F2' to showcase their finest footy skills, and the world has taken notice.

Choreographed: Jeremy Lynch and Billy Wingrove show off their sublime freestyle skills

Choreographed: Jeremy Lynch and Billy Wingrove show off their sublime freestyle skills

The F2 freestyle

The pair opened the show at last year's Ballon d'Or ceremony, showing more creativity than your average boy in his garden with his mate filming on a mobile phone.

As well as packing videos full of mesmerizing skills, flicks and even a few first-time volleys, the tricksters are looking to teach young players the skills they have developed over time.

After being inspired by watching a Nike commercial in 2000 with Edgar Davids and Denilson, Lynch won the hearts of a nation by reaching the final showdown of the popular reality TV show in 2008.

Lynch has also filmed videos with the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Robinho, while Wingrove has been a professional freestyler for a decade.

And after South Korean freestyler Mr Woo toured the world showing off his skills for nearly two decades, there will definitely be a market for the pair to break into.

The pair's DVD 'Learn Football Freestyle' is for sale through their website for 9.99.

VIDEO: Freestyle duo Jeremy Lynch and Billy Wingrove show off their skills

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The Adrian Durham column: The next Wayne Rooney? England"s kids can do better and why do Arsenal fans lie down and get ripped off?

The next Rooney England's kids can do better than that… The all-Spain XI is a total joke (so is Chamakh's loan to West Ham)… And why do Arsenal fans lie down and get ripped off

without Ashley Cole is frankly laughable. He’s now up to 99 caps, he’s a European champion and performed at a consistently high level throughout the year. David Silva’s absence is stunning – perhaps the fact that he has had no history with either Barcelona or Real Madrid meant he couldn’t be considered. Maybe those who voted didn’t realise Juan Mata started out at the Bernabeu.

The full cast: FIFA's world XI for 2012 was made up entirely of players from La Liga...

The full cast: FIFA's world XI for 2012 was made up entirely of players from teams in La Liga…

... but Spain's time at the top will come to an end, just like France's did at the World Cup in 2002

… but Spain's time at the top will come to an end, just like France's did against Senegal at the World Cup in 2002

... but Spain's time at the top will come to an end, just like France's did at the World Cup in 2002

More from Adrian Durham…

The Adrian Durham column: Mourinho ruined Joe Cole, Sam's the man to fix him… Owen acted like a Twit over trophy snaps… and Lampard shoots TOO MUCH
03/01/13

The Adrian Durham column: Keepers make mistakes so back off England's undisputed No 1 Hart… useless Liverpool need Carragher… and make Arsenal play away on Boxing Day (at Stoke)
27/12/12

The Adrian Durham Column: Reality check for Arsenal – even Peterborough have beaten Reading… Cazorla cannot touch Silva or Mata… And why Messi is a bottler
20/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And how about Ramires Voted player of the year by his Chelsea team-mates, a European champion, a regular for Brazil, and scorer of one of the best and most important goals of the year – that stunning chip in the Nou Camp in the Champions League semi final.

Surely Chelsea’s stunning achievement in Munich in May – not to mention the semi – had to be reflected in the FIFA selection

This adulation of all things Spanish is understandable. But it won’t last.

The same happened with France after their international success in 1998 and 2000. They went to the next World Cup and failed to score a goal. I made a bit of money backing Senegal to beat the French in Seoul in 2002 and here’s another prediction – Spain won’t win the World Cup next year.

Loan scattergun is an insult to loyal fans

The loan system is also a total joke. You’ve got players like Marouane Chamakh having a good chunk of his wages paid by Arsenal, while he plays for West Ham. So basically Arsenal are subsidising West Ham. If Chamakh scores the goals (don’t laugh) to take West Ham to eighth, then the prize money (755k per place last season) the Hammers earn would in part be thanks to the Gunners. Ridiculous.

Then you get the clubs who completely lose their identity. Ipswich Town for example. A great club with a rich history who this season have had eight loan players, including Daryl Murphy, now in his THIRD loan spell at Portman Road.

Loan rangers: Today's Ipswich, including temporary fixes David McGoldrick (centre) and Aaron McLean (left), is a far cry from the club's glory days under Bobby Robson (below) in the 1980s, when the Tractor Boys won the UEFA and FA Cups

Loan rangers: Today's Ipswich, including temporary fixes David McGoldrick (centre) and Aaron McLean (left), is a far cry from the club's glory days under Bobby Robson (below) in the 1980s, when the Tractor Boys won the UEFA and FA Cups

Loan rangers: Today's Ipswich, including temporary fixes David McGoldrick (right) and Aaron McLean (left), is a far cry from the club's glory days under Bobby Robson (below) in the 1980s, when the Tractor Boys won the UEFA and FA Cups

Town now have 10 strikers at the football club. (I’m not making this up). The latest are Aaron McLean, on loan from Hull City, David McGoldrick, on loan from Nottingham Forest, and Frank Nouble, a rare permanent signing from Wolves. Not one of the Ipswich loans is a young player sent out for experience by a Premier League club, which might be a positive. All are experienced pros.

One or two loans are fine, and some are necessary in an emergency. But five to six loans That’s bad management. Ipswich were never going down, and are too far off the play-off chase. So in effect they’ve signed a load of loan players who haven’t joined Ipswich Town, the club the fans love and hold close to their heart. They’ve joined any club that will give them a game.

Why do Arsenal fans lie down and take this rip-off

I can’t let Arsenal get away with it… 62 for Man City fans is cheap compared to what the Gunners robbed me of this season.

I had promised a friend a ticket to the north London derby, and as a man of my word, I followed through on my promise. It cost me 89. Yes almost 1 a minute. Luckily she’s a Gooner and got her money’s worth.

It seems a lot of Gooners are happy to be exploited by their club. Do they realise this money goes towards the wages of the aforementioned Chamakh, now at West Ham And the fans part-fund the astonishing 7million-a-year wages of Arsene Wenger, who used to be brilliant but isn’t now.

Arsenal’s big 'trophy' is meeting financial fair play rules. I’m not surprised they meet the rules when they rip the fans off and those fans lie down and take it.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Marouane Chamakh

What a waste of money: Arsenal are still paying for Arsene Wenger's mistake in signing Marouane Chamakh

ADRIAN DURHAM

Follow Adrian on Twitter – @talkSPORTDrive… Adrian hosts talkSPORT's Drivetime Show on weekdays between 4pm–7pm alongside former England cricketer Darren Gough

Upsetting the Apple-cart

Michael Appleton hasn’t had to do very much to be wanted has he Plenty of managers have improved their clubs – Kenny Jackett at Millwall, Mark Robins at Coventry, and Paolo Di Canio at Swindon are three examples. Appleton isn’t in that list with either of his clubs. But some influential people said he was good. So he must be.

Neil Ruddock Celebrity Big Brother bath time

Did the water jump out when you got in, Razor Bath time for Ruddock in the Celeb Big Brother house

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

15:50 GMT, 7 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 7 January 2013

Who knows what Neil Ruddock's motives for going into the Celebrity Big Brother house were, but we hope losing a few pounds is somewhere on his list of priorities.

There's no doubt 'Razor' has earned the right to treat himself now that his playing days are behind him. But he's clearly treating himself a little too often.

The former Millwall, Tottenham and Liverpool defender has joined Frankie Dettori and host of other celebs hoping to win cash for their chosen charity.

He's big Big Brother contestant: Ruddock in all his glory, heading for a bath

He's big Big Brother contestant: Ruddock in all his glory, heading for a bath

This is not the first time that the 44-year-old has ventured into the world of reality television since he hung up his boots in 2003. Ruddock appeared on 'I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!' in 2004.

While his television career has introduced his loutishness to a wider audience, Ruddock's behaviour gained him infamy in the footballing world in his mid-90s hey-day.

On the pitch, Ruddock was famously involved in a scuffle with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, while he broke both of Cantona's United team-mate Andrew Cole's legs in a challenge in a reserve match in the same year.

One question: Is Ruddock really big, or is that bath really small

One question: Is Ruddock really big, or is that bath really small

Off the pitch, Razor earned himself a reputation as a heavy drinker and
womaniser during a career which spanned 17 years and took in eight
clubs.

Never the slimmest in his playing days, Ruddock has swelled to a size surely even he would have gawked at back in his prime. Maybe a spell away from the fridge will do him good.

Slim pickings: Ruddock cut a leaner figure in his playing days

Slim pickings: Ruddock cut a leaner figure in his playing days

Ronaldo sheds an incredible 37lbs on reality TV show

(Not so) Fat Ronaldo sheds an incredible 37lbs in three months to play in former Real team-mate Zidane's charity football match

|

UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

Since the emergence of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano, as a point of distinction, one of the great strikers of our time became harshly known as ‘Fat Ronaldo’.

But not only has the Brazilian legend of the game lost over two-and-a-half stone, he should also have shed this cruel moniker.

Since September, Ronaldo shifted a remarkable amount of weight after taking part in a reality television show to repair his ‘bad relationship with the scales’.

VIDEO: Take a look at Ronaldo's new slimline frame

Ronaldo, who stepped onto those pesky scales once more live on TV on Sunday, spent three months rigorously exercising on the Medida Certa show and lost 37 pounds as a result.

His fitness regime included three months of Gangnam Style dancing and topless pilates, helping him slim down from 18st 6lbs to an incredible 15st 9lbs.

He has also cut a few inches off his waitline, trimming his 42 inches to 36 in the 12 week period.

Ronaldo, who has won the FIFA Player of the Year award three times, wanted to shift the weight in time for former Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane’s charity match in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months to be fit for a charity football match

Paunch: Ronaldo had a protruding belly before he lost some of the weight

Paunch: Ronaldo had a protruding belly before he lost some of the weight

Svelte: Ronaldo showed off his new figure in Cesar Sampaio's farewell match

Svelte: Ronaldo showed off his new figure in Cesar Sampaio's farewell match

In the latter years of Ronaldo’s illustrious career, and after his retirement, the two-time World Cup winner simply ballooned.

This, coupled with the rise to prominence of his namesake at United and Real Madrid, meant that football fans used his now incongruous nickname to distinguish between the Brazilian and Portuguese Ronaldos.

Most notable was during his farewell match for Brazil in 2011. Ronaldo, sporting a huge paunch, played for his country one last time against Romania in Sao Paolo.

A trimmer Ronaldo played in another farewell match last week for Cesar Sampaio in his final game between past and present Palmeiras club players.

Chelsea 0 Corinthians 1: Rafa Benitez"s world falls apart – Martin Samuel

Rafa's world falls apart! Back to (grim) reality for Benitez as Chelsea flop in final

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 16 December 2012

The speech that Rafael Benitez was planning to give, on the back of triumph here, will remain neatly folded and unused in his pocket. Chelsea will not, after all, return home as world champions.

When they land in England, later than expected due to local air traffic restrictions, it will be not to fanfare, but the humdrum prospect of a Capital One Cup tie at Leeds United, followed by the slog of closing a 13-point gap on the Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Far from receiving a fillip from their brief diversion to the East, as hoped, if anything it gets harder from here.

Scroll down for video

That's the one: Paolo Guerrero heads the ball into the net to score the winner

That's the one: Paolo Guerrero heads the ball into the net to score the winner

Magic moment: Guerrero (right) celebrates after his decisive intervention

Magic moment: Guerrero (right) celebrates after his decisive intervention

Match facts

Corinthians: Cassio, Alessandro, Chicao, Paulo Andre, Fabio Santos, Ralf, Paulinho, Emerson (Wallace 90), Danilo, Jorge Henrique, Guerrero (Martinez 86).

Subs Not Used: Julio Cesar, Douglas, Anderson Polga, Willian Arao, Edenilson, Fernandes, Guilherme Andrade, Felipe Monteiro, Giovanni, Romarinho.

Booked: Jorge Henrique.

Goals: Guerrero 69.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic (Azpilicueta 83), Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Moses (Oscar 72), Mata, Hazard (Marin 87), Torres.

Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Mikel, Ferreira, Sturridge, Terry, Bertrand, Piazon, Saville, Hilario.

Sent Off: Cahill (90).

Booked: Luiz.

Att: 70,000

Ref: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).

Fixtures are piling up, the time
Benitez has to implement his thoughts is further restricted, and there
are still as many questions as answers about Chelsea's prospects in this
campaign.

It was Benitez's second defeat as
Chelsea manager, and the reality is that his only victories so far have
been against two inferiors, Nordsjaelland of Denmark and Monterrey of
Mexico, plus Sunderland who are in freefall down the Premier League
table.

Tite, the coach of Corinthians,
repeatedly referred to the amount of long passes which Chelsea played,
and he was right. Benitez's plan was to hit the Brazilians on the
counter-attack but, particularly in the first half, this too often
deteriorated into a raking pass overhit for a forward to chase.

Coupled with Corinthians' bruising
resistance, it was not pretty. Benitez needed victory here to prove his
methods are working. He intended to use a good result as a springboard.

Bringing home a first trophy would
not entirely stem the chorus of disapproval at Stamford Bridge but, if
followed by a run of form domestically, it might have caused a
reasonable number to re-examine his credentials.

Glory days: Corinthians celebrate with their trophy while David Luiz looks on in misery (below)

Glory days: Corinthians celebrate with their trophy while David Luiz looks on in misery (below)

Watching on: Luiz

Removed: Gary Cahill was sent off late on as Chelsea fought for an equaliser

Removed: Gary Cahill was sent off late on as Chelsea fought for an equaliser

Frustrated: Chelsea struggled to break through against the Brazilians

Frustrated: Chelsea struggled to break through against the Brazilians

Cassio talking to Torres

Don't think he was not hoping to show
Roman Abramovich that his Chelsea could win the big matches, too.
Instead, this was a desperately unconvincing 90 minutes.

Chelsea were lifeless, slow to
respond and beaten by a side that finished the season in Brazil 20
points shy of champions Fluminese.

Corinthians were tough and awkward,
but no more. Their support was fanatical and relentless but the team
itself is mediocre; physical and combative rather than slick and nimble.
It wasn't even a case of wanting it more.

The Club World Cup may leave English
football dead but Chelsea did not look as if they did not care. They
were just not good enough.

Fernando Torres reverted to the form
that preceded the arrival of Benitez, and the defence looked careless
and nave, certainly for the goal. It is not so much that the best team
won, more that Chelsea did not do enough to elicit sympathy in defeat.
They were arguably the better team but, given their resources, they
should be.

Unquestionably, there is a way to go
before Benitez can deliver that rabble-rousing address. Nothing about
the way they played yesterday suggested champions in the making.

The first 30 minutes of the game were
quite dire, and the prize always looked likely to be decided by a
single goal. So it proved.

In the 69th minute, a shot by Danilo
was blocked by Gary Cahill, but looped up on the edge of the six-yard
box. A trio of Chelsea players standing on the goal-line watched it,
and one Corinthian striker, Paolo Guerrero, attacked it.

Tempers: David Luiz argues with the Corinthians coach

Tempers: David Luiz argues with the Corinthians coach

Tricky: Victor Moses tries to pile his way through on goal

Tricky: Victor Moses tries to pile his way through on goal

Nearly: Guerrero reacts after missing a chance against Chelsea

Nearly: Guerrero reacts after missing a chance against Chelsea

Benitez had talked of the need to
eliminate mistakes and this goal will cause him much anguish in the
memory. If just one player had challenged, Guerrero's header might not
have decided the game.

Yet if Benitez is left with bad
memories, Cahill had a nightmare. Not content with losing and failing to
prevent a goal, he was sent off late in the match after a retaliatory
clash with Emerson, and may now miss the next game, at Leeds.

Cahill's dismissal can hardly be
held responsible for the outcome, coming in the 87th minute, but it was
the final insult on an occasion that, with hindsight, Chelsea could have
done without.

No way in: Eden Hazard is denied when through on goal

No way in: Eden Hazard is denied when through on goal

Foiled: Rafael Benitez's dreams of being a double world champion are in tatters

Foiled: Rafael Benitez's dreams of being a double world champion are in tatters

'It's a long way to come to lose,'
said Frank Lampard, summing it up perfectly. Chelsea had their chances
but, once again, the standard of finishing, particularly from Torres,
will concern.

With four minutes to go, a move begun
with a throw-in from substitute Cesar Azpilicueta ended with the ball
dropping, as if guided divinely, at Torres's feet eight yards out. He
should have equalised, instead Corinthians goalkeeper Cassio smothered.

Abramovich paid 50million for Torres
for him to decide final matches like this. He is flattered by a recent
run of five goals in three games, against poor opposition.

Stunned: Luiz, Ramires and Frank Lampard react to going behind

Stunned: Luiz, Ramires and Frank Lampard react to going behind

Raucous: Corinthians fans filled the stadium as they saw their side triumph over their European champions

Raucous: Corinthians fans filled the stadium as they saw their side triumph over their European champions

Victor Moses was called into the team
to offer assistance but he proved even less effective than Torres.
Moses was unable to cope with Corinthians' physical presence and managed
only one good chance, a 39th-minute curling shot which Cassio – who was
voted the player of the tournament – was at full stretch to tip round.

There were other opportunities.
Torres and Cahill nearly had the ball over the line in an 11th-minute
goal-line scramble, while Moses and Torres got into good positions,
without getting the ball under control.

Juan Mata had a snap shot saved and Torres and Eden Hazard were both through one-on-one but lost out to the rushing Cassio.

Pure delight: Corinthians players revel in their victory (and below)

Pure delight: Corinthians players revel in their victory (and below)

Corinthians celebrate

Torres got the ball into the net as
the game crept into injury time, but his header was rightly disallowed
for offside. Corinthians, whose season has ended, had greater time to
prepare and a desire that coursed through the team.

It took the Brazilians in the
Chelsea squad to explain the significance of the Club World Cup to the
rest; Benitez's reward was to leave one of them, Oscar, on the bench.
Seeing the jubilant reaction of Corinthians it was hard to begrudge them
their moment.

Last year, the presence of Lionel
Messi made even Barcelona's semi-final a sell-out and there was a real
air of anticipation around the tournament, but this event has been
defined by the attitude of the South American contenders, and their
desire to break a five-year stretch of European domination.

Corinthians' fans, upwards of 25,000,
packed the Nissan Stadium with noise, banners and flags, Corinthians'
players reacted to victory the way world champions should.

Chelsea stood glum and vanquished, a
long flight and a long season ahead, grim reality crowding in where it
was vainly hoped inspiring glory would be.

Wheely good: Keeper Cassio is given a giant key and the car below to celebrate his man of the match award

Wheely good: Keeper Cassio is given a giant key and the car below to celebrate his man of the match award

Cassio with his key and car

PS… Corinthians fans watching in their fans' club house in Brazil went WILD

Loving it: Corinthians fans went crazy

Party time: Corinthians fans go wild as they see their club crowned world champions

Incredible scenes: Corinthians fans delight in their triumph

VIDEO: 'One game at a time': Benitez turns attention to Premier League after defeat…

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The Midlander puts on his red suit and hands out Christmas presents to clubs

All I want for Christmas is… The Midlander goes down the chimneys of eight clubs to spread some Christmas cheer

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 13 December 2012

Just because it's the time of year and – quite frankly because I also really enjoy writing this type of piece – I'm handing out a few Christmas presents to our Midlands' teams.

It's meant to be light-hearted. It maybe a bit pointed, but if any offence is caused, I'm going to take the mickey out of myself too somewhere along the line….so what would we give to….

Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert

Gifts: Neil Moxley does his best Father Christmas impression and hands Villa manager Paul Lambert (left) a new creative midfielder and West Brom's Steve Clarke a dose of reality after a great start has become a blip

Carson Yeung (Birmingham City owner) I'm sure what Mr Yeung would value most this Yuletide is his liberty. Difficult to put a price on that, isn't it

What Birmingham City's supporters would value is clarity. It appears that the great sell-off continues to gather pace.

No-one is any the wiser as to how, why and when it will come to an end.

Until that situation is resolved, then Lee Clark is going to continue to have to make-do in the transfer market, I'm afraid, and frustrations will inevitably grow.

Funds: Nigel Clough (pictured) will be hoping that young starlet Will Hughes, who has attracted interest from Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, brings much-needed funds

Funds: Nigel Clough (pictured) will be hoping that young starlet Will Hughes, who has attracted interest from Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, brings much-needed funds

Nigel Clough (Derby County manager) After spending four seasons in charge of the Rams, the current manager's late father was mounting a First Division title tilt.

But then, Clough Snr operated in different times. I remain a fan of Clough Jnr – I think his squad is evolving – and the players he has signed have a desire to be successful.

It is a pity that won't be cut too much slack in the New Year. The word is that some funds will need to be generated.

I've not seen him yet – except on television – but if the rumours are right Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are tracking Will Hughes, then he must be half-decent.

Therefore, I wish for Mr Clough a clean and healthy balance sheet that gives him an evens-chance of pushing Derby upwards.

Paul Lambert (Aston Villa manager) Having witnessed a car-crash of a performance in the first home fixture against Everton, I feared for Villa.

I fear no longer but I'd be happier still if they had a playmaker who could really make a difference in the final third of the field.

The Scot deserves credit for his policy. A few players have certainly done themselves no harm. I've always liked Ciaran Clark. Chris Herd is a battler and should have been given a chance to establish himself as a right-back under Alex McLeish.

More from Neil Moxley…

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19/10/12

The Midlander: Pearson deserves so much more as Leicester target the Premier League
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The Midlander: Bent mystery at Villa making life under Lambert very interesting
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The Midlander: Baggies crashed out, but at least they took the Capital One Cup seriously
27/09/12

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But the former Blues boss went out and bought Alan Hutton instead. Expensive mistake, that. Nathan Baker has been a revelation and, obviously, Christian Benteke has caught the eye.

I have to say I'm a huge Matthew Lowton fan. This boy goes about his business in a quiet, effective and understated fashion. Where Lambert is lacking is someone with a bit of guile to take games such as the one against Stoke City at the weekend and open up defences or fire one in from the edge of the box.

So, it's a number ten for Paul Lambert. And a Wembley appearance Another League Cup triumph Fingers crossed.

Nigel Pearson (Leicester City boss) The easiest present of the lot to source. No boardroom interference…please.

Leicester's boss can be a crotchety so-and-so on occasion but if the Foxes' hierarchy can leave him alone, I have a feeling he will end up delivering this season.

From what I've seen, Danny Drinkwater has come on leaps and bounds and by securing a defender of Wes Morgan's quality, Pearson was always going to reap rewards in the medium-term.

I've a sneaky feeling the Foxes will be adding – hurray – to our Midlands' contingent in the top-flight next season.

Steve Clarke (West Brom head coach) I'd just like a dash of reality to be sprinkled all over Clarke's Christmas pud.

While everyone outside of the club appears to be getting carried away by a storming start to the season, it was always likely that the Baggies would suffer a slight blip somewhere along the way.

It seems that blip is now. The overall quality of Clarke's squad will see them finish well clear of trouble, but all this nonsense about Europe needs to be nipped in the bud early on.

The time to talk about that is April. The only other point is that Youssouf Mulumbu's form so far this season has been sensational. I do hope his presence is not missed during the African Cup of Nations.

Clarke won't get carried away, he's too experienced for that. But it will be interesting to see how he handles this, given that he's now number one in his own right.

Dispute: Coventry City need an end to the dispute over their stadium, the Ricoh Arena

Dispute: Coventry City need an end to the dispute over their stadium, the Ricoh Arena

Coventry City – the whole club – the board of directors, manager Mark Robins and his players and the long-suffering support – need an end to the situation with the stadium which, quite frankly, must be resolved to the benefit of the club.

I understand why the holding company was formed and the reasons for it. But it is a nonsense that the decision-makers at the Sky Blues do not have access to matchday revenues.

I have no axe to grind with ACL whatsoever. But I fear that before the end of the year this could all end horribly. I don't think ACL will offer the kind of rent reduction the club is seeking.

I'm not sure they can. They have a mortgage to pay themselves. So, it could get worse before it gets better. It's just such a sad situation.

But it's one the football club has to address, or else it will continue to chase its' tail, I'm afraid.

I just wish the fans some good cheer on the pitch. I have a feeling Mark Robins is going to get the Sky Blues going again.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – I could be glib, here. I could say, a tin of paint-remover for boss Stale Solbakken following that incident with his beamer the other week.

But I'm not going to. I wish him all the best as, from my admittedly limited dealings with him, he has been absolutely honest and truthful when fronting up Wolves' recent failings.

I loved his comment about fearing the sack. ('I was dead, why should that bother me') I also believe owner Steve Morgan is one of the game's good guys.

Despite the flak he continues to receive chief executive Jez Moxey most certainly is one of the good guys. Under his stewardship Wolves have always tried to act in a proper manner.

They may come up short on occasion – as they did with Mick McCarthy's sacking. But there were phone calls made to the press afterwards to dissect why the club had such a hard time of it.

They wanted to learn from their mistakes. Believe me, if only a few more were like that. I wish top six for Solbakken – and Morgan and Moxey too for that matter.

A signing or two in the New Year to add fresh impetus would be nice, too.

Fresh faces: Wolves manager Stale Solbakken (pictured) could do with some new signings to help their bid for an instant return to the Premier League

Fresh faces: Wolves manager Stale Solbakken (pictured) could do with some new signings to help their bid for an instant return to the Premier League

Nottingham Forest – see Leicester City. Leave Sean O'Driscoll alone. Let him manage the club. It will come right.

The financial bonanza that accompanies promotion to the Premier League distorts the thinking at some clubs.

And the word is that the Kuwaitis are getting frustrated – as the Thai owners at Leicester did last season.

Forest have improved markedly from last season when I thought they were going down.

But O'Driscoll – and Steve Cotterill – moved them away to safety. Let's just see where we are in February and if the manager wants to strengthen then, it might be an idea to let him.

As for yours truly, I need three things.

The first is a treadmill. After asking Mr Solbakken whether he was fit to do the job at Molineux following his heart scare, (and with the hindsight of what happened to Gerard Houllier, I thought it was a relevant topic) he challenged me to a race around the Molineux pitch. Ten times. Clearly I need to get fit.

Secondly, I'd like a pair of sunglasses. That way I could have hidden when, during an exchange involving Steve Clarke and a colleague who asked what Roy Hodgson had said after the Scot confirmed that the England coach had been in touch, I dropped myself in it.

I piped up: 'He just asked how his team was getting on.' I got a few laughs from the floor and none from Mr Clarke. I apologised and he was gracious. But that stare…

Lastly, I need a good book. My Albion-loving pal Chris Lepkowski has chartered West Brom's rise during the past decade in his tome: 'In pastures green.'

No-one has been closer to the events at the Hawthorns during the past ten years than Chris. And he's a good writer. So I'll settle for an afternoon reading that.

Until next week…

Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll looks on

 Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson

Interference: Both Nottingham Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll (left) and Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson would benefit from a lack of interference by members of their respective boards

Swansea 3West Brom 1 match report: Michu and Wayne Routledge score for Swans

Swansea 3 West Brom 1: What a Liberty! It's a Routledge rout as Baggies bubble bursts

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 28 November 2012

It's a touch premature to say West Brom’s wheels have come off, but they certainly looked a little rickety.

Three goals down and counting their blessings after 40 minutes, they were served a cold reality check on a cold night that the Barclays Premier League is not so easy after all.

They were third in the table coming in, a quite phenomenal feat for this club in this division, and one reflected by the stats that showed their haul of 26 points from 13 games was their best start to a top-flight season since 1953.

All white on the night: Swansea are unbeaten in their last five games and moved up to eighth in the table

All white on the night: Swansea are unbeaten in their last five games and moved up to eighth in the table

Match facts

Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies, Britton, Hernandez (De Guzman 74), Ki, Dyer (Moore 64), Routledge, Michu (Agustien 86). Subs not used: Cornell, Monk, Shechter, Tiendalli.

Goals: Michu 9, Routledge 11, 39.

West Brom: Myhill, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Jones, Yacob, Morrison, Mulumbu, Brunt, Odemwingie, Lukaku. Subs not used: Daniels, Popov, Rosenberg, Long, Dorrans, Tamas, Fortune.

Booked: McAuley, Brunt, Olsson, Jones.

Goal: Lukaku 45.

Referee: Lee Mason.

Attendance: 20,377.

The latest Premier League fixtures, tables and results

But, courtesy of Michu and Wayne
Routledge, it all went so horribly wrong for But, courtesy of Michu and
Wayne Routledge, it all went so horribly wrong for Steve Clarke.

Youssouf Mulumbu, who missed the 4-2
win at Sunderland with a hamstring strain, was recalled to fill one of
the defensive midfield slots, with Claudio Yacob next to him in Steve
Clarke’s 4-2-3-1 system.
If the plan was to stifle Swansea’s possession in attacking positions,
it didn’t work. If the idea was to cut off the supply of passes out to
the flanks, it failed spectacularly.

Swansea were 3-1 up at half-time and
all three of their goals came from attacks that started in midfield,
found their way out to the left and were finished from close range.

West Brom right back Billy Jones had one of those nights that scar. His ordeal started after just 90 seconds.

Michu, as has so often been the case,
was at the centre of the move that nearly gave Swansea a perfect start.

The Spaniard found it too easy to escape Jones’s marking and was
allowed to collect a neat chip from Pablo Hernandez on the left before
forcing a good save from Boaz Myhill at his near post.

Here we go again: Michu hit the opening goal to put West Brom on the back foot

Here we go again: Michu hit the opening goal to put West Brom on the back foot

A handful: Michu evades James Morrison's attentions

A handful: Michu evades James Morrison's attentions

His wait for an eighth Premier League goal was a further seven minutes.

Again, record signing Hernandez was
involved, underlining his recent improvement with a delicate volley
across the six-yard box after Dyer’s floated cross to the far post.
Michu was waiting to bury the pass.

Flying high: Wayne Routledge fires his first of the evening past Boaz Myhill

Flying high: Wayne Routledge fires his first of the evening past Boaz Myhill

A spring in the step: Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer celebrate Swansea's second

A spring in the step: Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer celebrate Swansea's second

A second goal followed three minutes
later when Hernandez swapped passes with Ben Davies and danced into the
area from the left before teeing up Routledge for a tap-in.

West Brom were the first team to
concede a Premier League goal to Swansea last season on a September
afternoon in which they ultimately lost 3-0.

Double trouble: Routledge hit two in Swansea's rout

Double trouble: Routledge hit two in Swansea's rout

They seemed determined to
repeat the feat here, going three down after 39 minutes. Hernandez and
Davies were again involved down the left before the latter squared for
Routledge to score his second.

That he was unmarked from six yards
did not appear to go down too well with Clarke, and Myhill won’t be
pleased with his attempt to save, either.

Scant consolation: Romelu Lukaku fires West Brom's only goal of the game

Scant consolation: Romelu Lukaku fires West Brom's only goal of the game

Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back with
a volley from a poorly-cleared corner, but it was telling that the shot
was West Brom’s first on target.

Clarke looked somewhat agitated
coming off at half-time and the intensity of West Brom’s play early in
the second half hinted at an interesting team talk.

Mixed emotions: Laudrup

Mixed emotions: Clarke

Mixed emotions: Michael Laudrup's Swansea gave Steve Clarke plenty of food for thought

Committed: Jonas Olsson does his best to block Luke Moore's shot

Committed: Jonas Olsson does his best to block Luke Moore's shot

Lukaku went close to scoring a second
when he shrugged off Chico Flores and fired over after 46 minutes and
Chris Brunt connected almost too well when he took aim from 30 yards a
moment later.

But the revival, much like West Brom’s intensity, only came in a short burst.

David Platt says Scott Sinclair can leave Manchester City if he wants

Platt offers Sinclair City exit route but says midfielder understands his bit-part role

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UPDATED:

10:19 GMT, 28 November 2012

No-one is about to evict him from The Etihad Stadium, but Scott Sinclair was left in little doubt that he can leave Manchester City, if ever he grows tired of his bit-part role under Roberto Mancini.

On the day his reality TV girlfriend Helen Flanagan was given her marching orders from I’m A Celebrity.. Get Me Out Of Here, the City winger was left reflecting ruefully on his uncertain future with the Barclays Premier League champions.

Signed from Swansea for 8million three months ago, the winger has made only two starts and two substitute appearances, spanning a total of 161 minutes.

Bench warmer: Scott Sinclair has played infrequently this season

Bench warmer: Scott Sinclair has played infrequently this season

If he feels aggrieved at such a lack of involvement, though, there was little sympathy from City assistant manager David Platt, ahead of tonight’s game at Wigan.

‘When we took Scott, we sold Adam and were probably having similar discussions about him, as he was fit and not featuring as much as he’d like,’ he said.

Jungle star: Sinclair's girlfriend Helen Flanagan was voted off 'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!' this week

Jungle star: Sinclair's girlfriend Helen Flanagan was voted off 'I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!' this week

‘Every player wants to feature more, but when a player comes to this club, they are going to have to accept they’re not going to play week in and week out.

‘Some will play more than others, but when we spoke to Scott, he knew what he was coming into. He knew it was a big, big squad. The manager’s door is always open to any player, if they feel they want to go and play, like Adam did. To be fair, though, he seems happy and hasn’t made any noises about that.

‘He has done well when he has come on, and when he has started games as well, but we have a big squad and everyone is aware of that. We felt when Adam was leaving, we needed the characteristics within the squad that Scott provides. Any player would want to figure more than he has done, but we think he is a valued member of the squad and that he is going to help us.’

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn"t sexy for women

Laura Williamson: Dangerous
message that strong isn't sexy

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 18 November 2012

Regal: Zara Phillips

Regal: Zara Phillips

I read this week that having a 'strong, athletic body' is a 'problem' for a young woman. Apparently, you cannot wear 'dressy-up clothes' if you happen to have 'powerful thighs'.

An Olympic medal is all well and good but you will look 'lumpy and bumpy' in anything vaguely fashionable, so better stick to the baggy tracksuit bottoms, love.

The woman in question was a member of
Team GB at what cyclist Victoria Pendleton called a 'Games for the
girls' just three months ago. It was Zara Phillips, still arguably the
Queen's grand-daughter first and sportswoman second – despite what she
has achieved on a horse – but a successful athlete, nevertheless.

The
pictures of Phillips were certainly unflattering – primarily, I
suspect, because she does not give a hoot what she looks like unless it
wins her a few extra marks in competition – but it was the message that
was more concerning. It came across loud and clear: sporty is not
attractive. Nobody is going to fancy you for being faster, higher or
stronger – unless you look good in 'dressy-up clothes'.

What a lot of damaging, dangerous drivel. Is it any wonder, then, that 48 per cent of girls surveyed by the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough said that getting sweaty is 'not feminine' If athletic is not attractive, presumably it's much better to sit at home watching vacuous, made-up dolly birds on reality TV while developing an unhealthy relationship with carbohydrates owing to the pressure to be skinny Of course it is not.

Go out and get muddy or bop about at an aerobics class. I would point to examples such as Jessica Ennis and Keri-Anne Payne, who have graced billboards and the covers of glossy magazines, to prove that sporty can be attractive, but the point is much wider than that.

Cover girl: Jessica Ennis

Cover girl: Jessica Ennis

We are following a perilous path if we continue to evaluate our sportswomen in terms of the way they look and not what they have achieved. The word 'femininity', even in the rare instances it is applied to sport, still conjures up images of a delicate gymnast or a waif-like tennis player. But what about women who compete in disciplines that require power and body mass for them to succeed Why are they still not seen as feminine, womanly or girlie

Surely it is the gold medal hanging around their neck that makes them beautiful, not how they might look in a slinky evening dress. Having a 'strong, athletic body' might mean you make different choices about what to wear when you get dressed up, but it is certainly not a 'problem'.

Quite the opposite, in fact: it is something to be celebrated and to strive towards. I told a white lie earlier when I said I just 'read' those hurtful words. It was not a passive experience; I recoiled at them. And then I did what I normally do when I feel angry: I went for a run. Those 'problematic' thighs come in handy now and again, thank you very much.

What they said…

It's the time of year when students email asking for interviews for their dissertations about 'being a woman in sport'. I try to help where I can, but I could not stomach a study entitled: 'Covering the big men's sports might be the glory job, but it's no fun for a woman.' Yes it is – it's great fun. You just need a sat nav, caffeine, thermals and a thick skin sometimes.

And this is what I have been doing this week

Regretting breaking my usual habit of recording Match of the Day to watch on Sunday morning with the help of the fastforward button as the 'analysis' reached a new low. I want extra insight, not just someone talking me through what has happened. Vincent Kompany is clearly an intelligent footballer but he is also a current one: he had no choice other than to be diplomatic and cannot have had enough time after Manchester City's victory over Aston Villa to watch all the games properly. Quite what Alan Hansen's excuse is, however, I'm really not sure.

Watching AFC Wimbledon against York City last week, where we were so close to the pitch you could hear the players talking to each other and arguing with the 'lino'. One player swore and got ticked off by a fan, who shouted: 'Language!' The player said 'sorry' straight away.

Welcome news: Billy Sharp and Jade

Welcome news: Billy Sharp and Jade

When I interviewed striker Billy Sharp and his partner, Jade, about the loss of their son, Luey, it was one of the hardest interviews I have ever done. But, among the sadness, there was hope, too. Jade is pregnant again. The couple are expecting a son in four weeks' time. Last Wednesday in Doncaster they held a charity dinner for the LJS Foundation (www. ljsfoundation.org.uk), to raise awareness of gastroschisis, the condition with which Luey was born prematurely. It was a sell-out, with Sharps' old and current team-mates mingling with Doncaster Rovers fans who just wanted to support their former striker. Football often gets a hard time but it still has a capacity to make you smile.

Statistic of the week

It is 10 years this week since the England women's football team lost a qualifying fixture for a major tournament. That's 25 wins and seven draws, 105 goals scored and just 10 conceded, to give England a place at two World Cups and three European Championships – including next summer's tournament in Sweden. Perhaps 'playing like a girl' is not such a bad thing, after all.